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Meat Hygiene Service

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the level of Meat Hygiene Service charges. [101638]

Mr. Nick Brown: On 1 December, the Government announced that Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) hygiene inspection charges for the whole of 1999-2000 would be held at the levels set for 1998-99. This will result in a

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saving to the meat industry of some £7 million in charges in 1999-2000. The Government have also given a commitment that the rates of MHS hygiene inspection charges in 2000-02 should not rise by more than the level of inflation above the levels charged in 1999-2000.

This will bring benefits across the livestock industry and demonstrates the Government's commitment to helping the sector through its present difficulties.

Departmental Research Contracts

Dr. Harris: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many research contracts have been let by his Department since May 1997; what is the value of each contract; and in each case whether the contract included (a) a departmental veto over publication of the research results, (b) departmental control over the date of publication of the research results and (c) a requirement that the final research results incorporate departmental amendments. [100148]

Ms Quin: The number of research projects placed since May 1997 is 1,317. The total value of these projects is approximately £254 million. Detailed information is being placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Written agreements, contracts or memoranda of understanding cover all projects. The Department's policy is to encourage its contractors to make the results of research available to the public, to industry, and the wider research community, including through peer-reviewed scientific papers and a range of other routes. The Ministry's approach is that information should be released, save where disclosure would not be in the public interest. We publish details of MAFF-sponsored R & D projects on our website ( and copies of scientific reports are normally available on request. Overall policy on the release of Government information is set out in the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. There is no requirement that contractors incorporate departmental amendments to their research results though final reports are sometimes discussed with contractors as necessary.


Mr. Davidson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many cases of BSE have been confirmed in each of the last 12 months (a) in each of the Government office regions and (b) in total. [99845]

Ms Quin: The following table gives figures for confirmed BSE cases by month of confirmation for the last 12 months for the State Veterinary Service (SVS) regions in England together with the regional totals. For Scotland and Wales, figures are given to the end of June 1999. From 1 July 1999, provision of figures for those countries became the responsibility of the devolved administrations, so no further details or totals can be supplied.

The total number of BSE cases confirmed in Great Britain for the year ended 31 October 1999 was 3,274.

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It must be noted that expressing cases by month of confirmation does not reflect the occurrence of disease at that particular time. The interval between slaughter of the suspect and confirmation of the disease may be six to eight weeks for routine cases, but could be considerably longer in cases where additional tests or further on-farm investigations are requested.

The high number of confirmed cases in the first five months of 1999 is a consequence of accelerated diagnosis in order to provide material for an EU research project. Many of these would have been confirmed in April or May under normal procedures.

Number of BSE cases confirmed in each region by month of confirmation from November 1998 to October 1999


Meat Labelling

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make representations to the European Commission calling for French and Belgian beef imports to be labelled with the country of origin as a guide to consumers. [99753]

Ms Quin: The European Commission has recently put forward proposals for an EU scheme for compulsory origin labelling of beef. These are under discussion with European partners. In principle, compulsory labelling of beef will benefit consumers but will have a cost implication for the supply chain. The Government will consider the UK position on the proposals in the light of negotiations, but in principle we see advantages in labelling.

GM Varieties

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what plans he has to use his powers to revoke any national list entries in respect of GM varieties as a result of the farm-scale GM evaluations; [99986]

Ms Quin: There are no genetically modified plant varieties on the UK National List at present, so the questions do not arise.

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Food Surpluses

Mr. Cox: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the level of food surpluses in storage in each member state of the European Union, broken down by country and quantity involved. [100836]

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Ms Quin: The latest figures where available, for intervention stocks for each member state, are broken down as follows (figures quoted in tonnes unless otherwise stated):

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Cereals 21.11.1999Beef 31.7.1999SMP 25.11.1999Butter 25.11.1999Olive Oil 11.10.1999Wine (hectolitres) 31.10.1999

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French Turkeys

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if a Government health warning will be issued on the risk of E. Coli and salmonella poisoning from eating French turkeys without adequate precautions. [101078]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 2 December 1999]: The risk of food poisoning from poultry can be avoided by observing the simple rules of food hygiene, in accordance with on-going Government advice. We have no evidence to indicate that turkeys from France pose any greater risk than turkeys from elsewhere.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what quantity of turkey meat has been imported from France in each of the past three years; and what is the estimate for 1999. [101075]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 2 December 1999]: Official Overseas Trade Statistics show that UK imports of turkey carcase meat, offal and meat and offal preparations from France during 1996-98 and January to August 1999 were as shown in the table.


Turkey imports from France199619971998(4)1999
Carcase meat (whole birds and cuts)27,37025,45319,1757,766
Meat and offal preparations384747746407

(4) January-August

It is not possible to make an accurate forecast of 1999 imports, since the September to December period accounts for a major, but not constant, proportion of annual imports (over 60 per cent. in 1998). However,

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overall turkey imports from France during January to August 1999 were nearly 5 per cent. higher than for the same period in 1998.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what checks are made on the welfare standards of turkeys imported from France. [101077]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 2 December 1999]: It is for the French authorities to check the welfare standards under which turkeys are reared in France against any relevant standards set by French law. The welfare of turkeys and all animals during transport is protected by the requirements of Council Directive 91/628/EEC as amended by Council Directive 95/29/EEC. This Directive is implemented in Great Britain by the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997 and enforced by local authorities.

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